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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 11

Ironside's Notes on Selected BooksIronside's Notes

Verses 1-12

Chapter 11

Bands Of Love

“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt.” It is plain, from a consideration of Matthew 2:15, that God had in view His own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, when the prophet uttered these words. Clearly, and unmistakably, the Holy Babe’s sojourn in the land of Egypt is declared to be, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”

And yet a careful reading of the first few .verses of this chapter will make it equally clear that the prophet himself, doubtless, had none other than Israel nationally before him when he spoke the words quoted. He was dwelling on Israel’s past deliverance from the house of bondage, when Jehovah loved him and called him, as His son, out of the land dominated by the Pharaohs.

Is there then contradiction here? Far otherwise. There is the most perfect agreement, which another passage at once manifests. In 2 Corinthians 3:0 we learn from ver. 17, read in connection with the ^entire chapter, that the Lord is the Spirit of the Old Testament. He is everywhere presented to the anointed eye. Hence the apostle wrote by divine inspiration when he declared that Hosea’s words prophetically foretold the coming up of God’s Son out of Egypt. In wondrous grace He would, as it were, begin as His people began, in regard to His earthly pilgrimage. So, as a Babe” whose life is sought by Herod, He is carried over the route taken by Jacob when driven by famine to Egypt; and from that land whence His people had been delivered when oppressed by Pharaoh, He later returns to Palestine. Thus would He be identified with them in their wanderings, that they might understand how the Holy Spirit spoke of Him when He said, “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them” (Isaiah 63:9).

Called out of Egypt, He was ever the One in whom the Father found delight. In this how blessedly opposite to Israel! Redeemed by power from Egyptian tyranny, they went far from Him, though He called them in tenderest love. Turning away, they sacrificed unto Baalim, and worshiped images of man’s design (ver. 2).

Yet He had taught Ephraim to take his earliest steps, as it were; holding his arms and directing his way. But they soon, like an ungrateful child, forgot Him to whom they owed so much, and knew not that He had healed them. Tenderly He recalls those early days when He drew them with cords of a man and with bands of love, delivering them from the yoke, and providing all that they needed for their sustenance and enjoyment (vers. 3, 4)-what saint but will see in words so lovely the story of his own deliverance from sin and Satan, when first brought to the knowledge of Christ! Long enthralled in worse than Egyptian bondage, how unspeakably precious was the earliest revelation of His grace to our souls, when He drew us to Himself from our wickedness and waywardness by the bands of love; which were indeed the cords of a man-the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all! Let us challenge our hearts as to what return we have made to love so deep and tender. What is the Baal that has lured some of us so far from Him who once was everything to our hearts, when we took our first steps out into the wilderness with Him to whom we owed so much? Rest assured, fellow-believer, till every idol is destroyed, we shall never know again the freshness and joy of those early days, if we have allowed .other lords to have dominion over us.

Once set free from Egypt, Israel, nationally, could never return there. But because of their sins, they were given into the hand of the Assyrian; as will, in a more awful manner, be the case in the last days, when the sword shall abide upon them, “because of their own counsels” (vers. 5, 6).

Such must be the bitter fruit of forgetting their God and taking their own foolish and sinful way. From the first they had been “bent to backsliding” from Him, though He had called them again and again to repentance. But they persisted in their folly till there was no remedy (ver. 7).

Yet His yearning heart causes Him to cry, “How shall I give thee up? ... My heart is turned within Me, My repentings are kindled together” (ver. 8). He could not bear to make them as the cities of the nations upon whom His wrath had fallen without any mixture of mercy. Zeboiim and Admah (see Genesis 14:8) were two of the cities of the plain blotted out in the day when Sodom and Gomorrah fell beneath His judgment (Deuteronomy 29:23). Of a similar doom Moses warned Israel if they failed to keep His holy law. Thus they were righteously under that awful sentence; but God, falling back upon His own sovereignty, declares, “I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not a man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city”-i. e., to utterly consume it (ver. 9).

It is most blessed to realize that God, who, once He has given His word in grace, will never repent, or permit that people to be cursed whom He has blessed (as He made known to Balaam), yet reserves to Himself the right to turn from the greatness of His wrath, however richly deserved, and manifest His loving-kindness to the people of His choice upon their repentance. Therefore, though He might righteously have utterly destroyed Ephraim, He preserved a remnant, in grace, who shall yet be to the praise of His glory in the land of their fathers; when “they shall walk after the Lord,” in the day that “He shall roar like a lion,” causing His once-blinded people to tremble at His word; when He shall “set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea” (Isaiah 11:11). At His call they will come, weeping because of their sin, yet rejoicing in His love; “as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria,” to be placed “in their houses,” never again to be removed, according to the word of Jehovah (ver. 11).

This verse completes another distinct division of the prophecy, which extends from their first call out of Egypt to their restoration to the land and to God in the days of the millennial kingdom.

The last verse is properly the introduction to chapter 12, and brings in a new subject, which closes with the end of chapter 13. When Hosea prophesied, as frequently noted, the iniquity of Judah was not yet so manifest as that of the ten tribes whom Jeroboam had led astray from the very beginning, turning them away from Jehovah, and setting up the golden calves for their worship. They had been idolatrous from the first, and all their kings had followed in the steps of “Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin.” Therefore sentence was early pronounced on them because God had to say, “Ephraim compasseth Me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit.” There had never been any response to the many warnings and entreaties sent them by the Lord.

But with Judah it was far otherwise. Among them, decline was a matter of slow, and sometimes thwarted, progress. Hence we read, “But Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the Most Holy” (ver. 12, margin). Up to the time when Hosea prophesied, there was still a measure of devotion to Jehovah in Judah. Moreover, revival after revival followed the fervent calls to repentance uttered by the prophets; but it will be observed that as the years went on, they too became less and less responsive to the voice of God, until they lost all concern for His holiness.12

Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Hosea 11". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/isn/hosea-11.html. 1914.
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